Although I was born in Ecuador, I typically come to only visit family. I never have gone to do tourist things or go on tours of any area. This past summer I went to the most beautiful islands on Earth and did activities I never planned to manifest. I had moments where I was surrounded by love and then moments where I was about to make a phone call to just buy a ticket home. It was strange having that feeling that I had to get back to the United States even though Ecuador is my original home. I got a bad case of the gringos. Learned some rough lessons and here they are!
1. You don’t need internet to live but you it really helps.
Ecuador has had spotty wifi even at the most expensive hotels I’ve stayed at. When I spent a week in Atacames I would go to a wonderful internet Cafe, Michelle Cafe at the plaza square, and spend 1 to 2 hours to update my social media, this blog and try to Skype friends in the states to help out with issues back in the states. There would also be several days I just did not have internet at all. I ended up not minding at all after a while. So many folks say they would DIE without the internet but I ended up living so much more. I would have wonderful meals with my mom, family and new friends I met. I still had my phone camera so we would take pictures & even play with the PhotoBooth on my Macbook Air. There would be no one else in the world except us, right there. Or myself.
2. Be open to anything and ANYTHING will happen.
There were many times when I simply did not want to do anything other than be alone just because I was so exhausted from traveling or not feeling well yet I was like, “Okay, let me see what happens,” and I would say yes and engage. I know in Banos, I did not even WANT to do any type of anything except all the spa treatments and hang out at the heated pools. I was just standing in a tour guide with my friend being all excited and I was like, “Okay, sure.” I know that even know I was permanently traumatized after my first waterfall (with FOUR MORE TO GO) that I was going to be okay. After a busy day in Esmeraldas, I called off going to a concert but when I got there, it was AMAZING! I have never heard such awesome music and the beer was a DOLLAR! Being open to anything and a bunch of awesome happens.
3. You can speak enough Spanish so just say it.
I have always been insecure about how much Spanish I could speak bc I have never read a novel or wrote a blog or do not have a degree in Spanish. However, I have been able to get anything I need, go anywhere and get my message across with my broken Spanish. When I took a cab after a bus ride alone I was forced to explain where I was going and instead of saying “El Bandenero,” I said, “El Bananos.” This cab driver looked at me like I was lost & then I described what I was talking about and where and he was looked at me in the rear view mirror and said, “Where are you from?” It was funny to explain I was visited family in town and I lived in the USA and no I was not deported. I’ve met other travelers who did NOT speak ANYTHING Spanish at all & they were able to communicate. People in Ecuador are always looking to helps other, do not believe this place is dangerous all over. Of course the non-tourist cities are dangerous but over all people will tell you NOT to go some places after dark and check before heading out to keep yourself safe. My family made sure I did not walk around with my jewelry and to hide my smartphone because it would get stolen right out of the car window.
4. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
The bathroom situation in some places, on the road bus stops for the over 4 hour bus rides were standing situations. I went to a fair for Esmeraldas Independence day (well it was a week celebration) and realized, “OMG, I have to take this water from there to here to make my poo go away!” I have never been so connected to my own bowel movements. I would spend nights at a hostel just wishing for A/C so I could literally chill. Some bus rides I would repeatedly have to pull the person next to me so their elbow would get out of my rib cage. Times I would have to share a bed, which was just a mattress on a floor and there were no windows and it was a high traffic area. Couch surfing is not a luxurious option but I was staying as budget friendly as possible so in the end I’m happy for the way things rolled out. I became completely fine with funny smells, loud noises and generally being inconvenienced in every way possible. In the end, I am thankful that I did not spend my summer in a cubical then in traffic.
5. Time spent with family is well spent. My first trip was to Alausi and I visited my grandmother’s grave. I never my maternal grandmother as she passed away before I was born, but this was the family grave. I visited my Uncle’s grave and my grandfather’s grave. I was overwhelmed with feelings when my mom expressed she did not want to be buried here. I did spent this summer with my mom because her health has been so bad the past years and I had no idea when I would be able to spend so much time with her. This trip has helped our relationship a great deal. I have also been able to bond with my second cousins more than ever. Now that my Spanish is better than ever, I have had some great conversations with these people I usually just see on Skype. I am normally just a silly person that I act goofy all the time but there were great moments to bond with my family.
I will be heading back to the states in a week and I am sure that I will be sad to leave but I am glad there are always planes flying back so I can visit again.
Also I have been having a rough time with the WiFi so join me on Facebook: HydroSupraLicked as I post pics and my typically CHECK THIS OUT posts from the short 1-2 hours I get on the internet.